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PIA Press Release

DENR reforests 726 hectares in Bicol river basin

by AS Araya

Legazpi City (15 August) -- At least 726 hectares of open and denuded lands are now planted with forest trees even as reforestation activity goes on within the Bicol River Basin area.

So far, this is the accomplishment of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which is tasked to implement the watershed management and development (WMD) component of the Bicol River Basin and Watershed Management Project (BRBWMP).

Started in 2007, the BRBWMP is a six-year development initiative that will pilot a comprehensive program on natural resources management within the context of a river basin.

Its goal is to improve the quality of life of river basin communities, and its objective is to enhance livelihood and improve natural resources management by promoting a coordinated and sustainable demand-driven activities.

The BRBWMP is located within the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Albay traversing 37 municipalities and four cities and covers a total drainage area of 317,389 hectares. Per data available, 40% of the population (1.5 million in year 2000) in the area lives below the poverty-line.

The BRWMP has four components: watershed management, irrigation modernization, flood and hazard mitigation, and institutional development, with DENR, National Irrigation Administration, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Project Management Office headed by Asst. Secretary Tomasito Monzon, concurrent BRBWMP project director, as lead implementing agency.

The watershed component aims to restore, sustain and enhance the productive potentials of Alienable and Disposable (A & D) lands and timberlands, and enhance protective functions of the watersheds of the Bicol River Basin towards the ultimate goal of reducing poverty.

DENR Bicol regional executive director Joselin Marcus Fragada said the whole package of the watershed component has a total cost of P995 million and is in the process of negotiation with the World Bank for possible funding.

However, the Philippine government recognizes the immediate need to rehabilitate the Basin area and so on the last quarter of CY 2007, P33 million was released to cover the rehabilitation and development of 1,200 hectares of denuded area and 33 km. riverbanks.

Part of the released budget had been used for the construction of 382 cubic meters checkdams 1,100 one-meter ecoblocks and four units small water impounding systems (SWIS).

For year 2008, Fragada said, P129 million was released to cover the funding for 3,657 hectares of Upland Reforestation, Assisted-Natural Regeneration and Agroforestry project areas, 79 km. riverbanks, 249 cu. m. checkdams, 2136 ecoblocks, and seven units soil and water conservation measures.

Part of this budget will also be used for protection and maintenance of existing projects established in 2006 and 2007.

Fragada said bidding for this year's projects is going on and targets are expected accomplished by end of December 2008. (DENR/PIA) [top]

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